Top 10 stories of 2018
Written by Simon Austin — December 26, 2018
HERE are our top 10 best-read stories of 2018...
10. DANNY CIPRIANI: RUGBY'S FREE SPIRIT
Ben Dirs came face to face with one of the most talented and talked about rugby players of his generation - and was genuinely surprised by what he found.
"This isn’t the swaggerer I’ve read about, the feckless kid who threw it all away. This is a thoughtful man, well on the way to making sense of it all."
9. THOMAS GRØNNEMARK: LIVERPOOL'S THROW-IN GURU
After Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp revealed he had employed the services of a specialist throw-in coach, TGG secured the first interview with Dane Thomas Grønnemark.
Andy Gray may have ridiculed his work, but to us it made perfect sense. "Liverpool have three very fast players. You need to throw accurate, hard and precise to release them.”
8. MOURINHO'S MAN UTD WERE ONLY TEAM NOT TO USE GPS
We discovered that departed Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had scrapped the use of GPS monitoring at the club. This was a major surprise, as the technology is used by every other club in the Premier League and beyond.
The story was picked up by other media outlets and stimulated plenty of debate about the use of GPS and sports science as a whole.
7. UNCOVERING THE WORK OF FOOTBALL'S TACTICAL ANALYSTS
Joe Carnall, Derby County's Head of Tactical Analysis, took us into a hugely important yet little understood world.
“People see the sports science team warming the players up before the game, and the physios going on to treat them, but we're the ones in the background."
6. MARCELO BIELSA: PHILOSOPHY OF A CULT MANAGER
Marcelo Bielsa has been cited as an inspiration by many of the most successful managers in the world, including Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola.
After the enigmatic Argentine was unveiled as manager of Leeds United in June 2018, Jed Davies wrote us this insightful piece about Bielsa's methods and philosophy.
5. TONY STRUDWICK: WHY SPORTS SCIENCE HAS LOST ITS WAY
Tony Strudwick, the former Head of Performance at Manchester United, was one of the speakers at our inaugural Cohesive Coaching event in June.
One of the key themes of Strudwick's excellent presentation was that sports science has lost its way. "This red flag culture perpetuated by practitioners obsessed with injury prevention is killing our pursuit of human performance."
4. ACADEMY PRODUCTIVITY RANKINGS 2017/18
In December, we released the second edition of our annual Academy Productivity Rankings, compiled by Mark Crane.
Once again Manchester United came out on top, with Arsenal second and Tottenham third. There were lots of interesting findings, stimulating debate and discussion. Our hope is that the governing bodies step into the breach and publish their own in-depth data on Academies in future.
3. PEP GUARDIOLA AND THE HALF SPACES
After Brighton midfielder Steve Sidwell revealed the amount of time he'd spent studying the "half spaces" on his Uefa A Licence course, TGG decided to investigate further.
Dave Adams, who helped put the course together for the Welsh FA, navigated the way, informing us about football's fertile ground and why Pep Guardiola is the undoubted master at exploiting it.
2. WHAT MAN UTD CAN LEARN FROM BARCA ABOUT CULTURE
In October, Professor Damian Hughes outlined the importance of culture, explaining how integral it had been in returning Barcelona to the top. Hughes argued that Manchester United needed to learn some of the same lessons if they were to improve under Jose Mourinho.
"There is a great quote, often used in crisis management situations, that success leaves clues. This was the approach adopted by Barcelona back in 2007. It wouldn't be too late for those in charge of United to heed the same approach."
1. COACHING REVOLUTION THAT TOOK BELGIUM TO THE TOP
So here it is, our best-read story of 2018, with more than 75,000 page views.
Belgium's Head of Coach Education, Kris van der Haegen, explained how the Red Devils had gone from 66th in the Fifa world rankings to top spot in little more than a decade.
"The key for change was coach education. The main actor is the player. Not the coach, not the team."